LOS ANGELES, California — Westlake Financial Services announces a partnership with Japanese conglomerate Marubeni Corporation.  The partnership will result in Marubeni taking a 20 percent ownership stake in Westlake in a deal valued at $250 million dollars in newly issued equity.  Marubeni will also gain two seats on the executive board.  The deal closed July 1, 2011.

Paul Kerwin, Westlake’s CFO, says the deal represents a long-term strategic partnership between the two companies, one that will further solidify Westlake’s already strong balance sheet and provide strategic opportunities for future growth.  “What we found in Marubeni is a business partner that shares our vision for long-term growth,” says Kerwin.  “Not only are they interested in investing capital, they want to leverage their existing relationships and help Westlake grow at a higher level than if we were to continue operating on our own.”

Company officials talked about future business plans already underway: increasing independent and franchise dealership penetration, expanding their portfolio acquisitions and direct lending divisions, and exploring various strategic opportunities, to name a few.
Westlake President Ian Anderson adds that Marubeni appreciates Westlake’s use of technology and he believes it was a significant factor during the decision-making process.  “Our technology platform is really a platform for growth,” Anderson explains.  “Instead of opening regional branches, we use technology to bridge our 10,000-strong dealer base and the home office.  Of course we still have sales representatives out in the field – the auto industry is very much a people-business – but our software and business structure lend themselves to very aggressive growth without the need for excess infrastructure.  Marubeni saw that potential, and we’re very happy to have them on board to help maximize that potential.”

Don Hankey, CEO and Chairman of the Board, says he looks forward to working with Westlake’s new business partner.  “Marubeni is, quite simply, a perfect fit for Westlake.  They are not looking to invest in our company with an exit strategy in mind.  They are in it for the long haul. This partnership will help Westlake become the number one full-spectrum auto finance lender in the country.”

Westlake was represented in the transaction by Richard L. Hong, Esq. and Rich J. Sweet, Esq. of the law firm of Rutter Hobbs & Davidoff Incorporated, based in Century City, California.

About Westlake Financial Services
Westlake Financial Services is an internet based, privately held finance company that specializes in the acquisition and servicing of full-spectrum (sub-prime to prime) automotive retail installment contracts. Headquartered in Southern California, Westlake originates indirect retail installment contracts through a network of over 10,000 new and used car dealers throughout the United States. All collections and servicing are performed in-house from its central facility located in the Mid-Wilshire area of Los Angeles.

About Marubeni Corporation
Founded in 1858, Marubeni handles products in a broad range of sectors such as food materials, food products, textiles, materials, pulp and paper, chemicals, energy, metals and mineral resources, and transportation machinery, including offshore trading.  The Company's activities also extend to power projects and infrastructure, plants and industrial machinery, finance, logistics and information industry, and real estate development and construction.  Additionally, Marubeni conducts business investment, development and management on a global level.  Marubeni has 57 overseas branches and offices and 32 overseas corporate subsidiaries with 62 offices for a total of 119 offices in 69 countries/areas.  As to automotive activities, Marubeni is one of the biggest auto retailers in the world and operates 15 dealerships in the U.S. including such brand as BMW, Land Rover, Jaguar, Acura, Honda, Volvo, Mazda, and Volkswagen.  Marubeni also operates auto retail finance companies in Indonesia, Chile and the U.S. For more information, visit www.marubeni.com.